Centering on the Truth

Centering on the Truth

At the center of your being you have the answer.          Lao Tzu, 500 B.C.

Our minds function on 3 basic levels.  The level on which we are functioning can determine our level of fulfillment, peacefulness, success, happiness, and health.

On the outer level, we are focusing on the person whom we want the world and ourselves to see.  Sometimes referred to as the Persona.  This is necessary for our functioning in relationships with other people, and even ourselves.

On the next level, there are all of the emotional states, thoughts, and experiences of our lives that we would rather not see.  We store up memories, feelings, beliefs, personality traits (both positive and negative) some of which we can see occasionally, but others of which we are not even aware unless they come bubbling up unexpectedly due to something we are experiencing.  It is good to gradually, patiently explore this area of ourselves since it is affecting us whether we are aware of it or not.  It is important to be aware of this level; but not to judge yourself negatively for it, and not to be afraid of it.  The great psychiatrist Carl Jung called this level “The Shadow Self” and urged us to “make a friend of the Shadow”; not to resist or fight it.

At the center of our being is that part of us that connects to a Power greater than ourselves, and thereby knows the ultimate truth about ourselves and our lives.  However, this “knowing” usually is expressed more through states of being, such as peace and joy, rather than through conspicuous thoughts.  It is usually just a state of deep contentment, and confidence in ultimate victory.  Most people have experienced this state, at least briefly, most often through meditation, prayer, or communing with nature.  We have all experienced overcoming some significant problem, and often people attribute an amazing breakthrough as being the sign of a Higher Power operating in their lives.  unfortunately, most people forget how that power has helped them in the past; so they continue to worry or to try to control the uncontrollable.  We do not have to worry, nor try to control.  We can take our problems to the center of our being where we can let it go and surrender it to the ultimate power in the Universe.

A self-guided meditation which I find helpful in accessing this center of higher consciousness goes like this:  Get comfortable, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths slowly, and feel the muscles of your body relax; Think of how you have been presenting yourself to others; Then, move to the next level and think of something about which you have been concerned (e.g. health, finances, relationships, work, etc.); Now, focus on that center where you know that all is well, that there is a Power greater than yourself that has gotten you through many difficult situations before, and which can help you overcome any difficulty; stay in that center for a while, feeling the peace and perhaps joy or insight come over you; Then place whatever you have concerns about in that center, where you can surrender control of that to a Higher Power.

After the meditation, it is important to remind yourself what you experienced in that center, and to return to the center, daily.

At the center of your being is the answer.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                    June 28, 2017

Healing Through Service

Healing Through Service

“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when lived for others.”                        Helen Keller

When we are dealing daily with a chronic illness, it can take all of our attention, and eventually we can begin to believe that we are of no use to anyone.  We can arrive at this thought quite honestly, since indeed some illnesses do require a significant amount of our life’s focus and attention.

We know that service to others is one of the most significant aspects, if not the most fulfilling aspect of living; so we all want to participate in that.  You still can, regardless of what you have to deal with physically, yourself.

If a blind, deaf, mute woman (Helen Keller) can realize that life is most fulfilling when lived for others, I think any of us can focus on service to others.  There is no lack of need for service in our world.

Even the slightest gestures of kindness toward another person can make a huge difference in their lives.  A smile, an offer of assistance (even when refused), or our listening ear for a few minutes can change a person’s life.  Years ago when I wrestled with anxiety and depression on a regular basis, I have received hope from even a stranger giving me a brief smile when passing on the street.  To this day when I start to feel a little discouraged, I am personally inspired and encouraged by people I know who deal daily with significant physical problems, but manage to show kindness to others.

You have a treasure of kindness in you to give to a world of people who are feeling fearful, angry, hopeless, and powerless.  Suicide has increased in all age groups but is epidemic among teens.  Even small children experience such despair as to take their own lives.  Poverty and homelessness are on the rise.  These are just two examples of many I could give of very great needs in our world.  Your small acts of kindness can give hope, encouragement, and make a real difference in people’s lives.  You can’t wipe out all of the despair in the world; but giving hope to just one person can have a global effect.

You are just exactly what a hurting word needs.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                 June 21, 2017

The Healing Power of Music

The Healing Power of Music

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of our soul.   Plato

Music is another one of those simple sources of healing power in our lives.  We have all experienced the healing effects of music; and anecdotal evidence of its healing effects abound.  We often hear sayings such as: “Music is the universal language,” and “Music soothes the savage beast.”  Sometimes the “savage beast” is inside of us in the form of anxiety, depression, or physical illness.

Scientists have done extensive research on the effect of music on both the emotions and the body, finding that music does indeed have measurable healing effects on both the mind and the body.  There is evidence that music may act via the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates bodily functions over which we have no control.  The parasympathetic nervous system effects both our bodily functions and our emotions.  Music also reaches numerous brain systems that control both emotion and physical functioning.  Research shows significant reduction in stress levels, increased relaxation, reduction in pain, and improvements in the results when music is used in conjunction with other medical interventions, such as physical therapy, surgery, and medication.

The types of music which have consistently shown the most significant healing effects have been classical (most often Mozart and Beethoven), as well as easy listening, both instrumental and vocal.  However, individuals relate to different types of music, so it ends up being a very personal choice.

There are also obvious spiritual benefits to music.  Many people report feeling closer to God and even hearing the voice of God in music.  Aldous Huxley (not exactly My guru) is quoted as saying that “Next to silence, music is the closest experience of God.”

Music is a simple effective treatment for the mind, body and soul.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                   June 13, 2017

 

Clearing the Channel of Healing

Clearing the Channel of Healing

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions.  I want to use them to enjoy them.                                                                                                      Oscar Wilde

Your best chance of having really good health physically, mentally, and emotionally is to be born with excellent DNA, and with 2 parents who love you unconditionally.  If that is not the case for you (it’s too late now), then there are many things you can do to increase your chances of increasing the flow of health in your life.  This post is about one of those ways of increasing health: Clear out the emotional baggage that is blocking good things in your life.

The Latin word from which we derived the word emotion is “emovre,” which simply means “to move.”  Emotions are a driving force for movement in our lives.  That movement can work for us or against us.

All emotions are healthy emotions.  Many emotions become very unhealthy when they accumulate and block us from experiencing the positive energy that can result from allowing emotions to flow.

The basic emotions are joy, sadness, fear, anger, and guilt.  All of them have a role in facilitating our progression in life; however, if some emotions accumulate, it is as if they cause an infection to develop in our mind and body.  Accumulated emotions cause physical and mental stress.  95% of all illness is created by stress, according to the research of Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief).

We humans have a tendency to hold onto certain emotions from our past.  Most people experience some sort of traumas, disappointments, betrayals, and losses in life which produce emotions that are appropriate at the time of the event; but many people tend to never completely move on from some of those experiences emotionally.  It is important to move on from the traumas, disappointments, etc.

I know:  Easier said than done.  True.  But, there are things we can do to clear the emotional baggage:

  1. Be honest with yourself about what bothers you.  Just face the issues that tend to upset you, no matter how ridiculous they might seem.  Facing these issues can help you learn to deal with them more effectively, which might involve changing the way you think, changing a behavior, or changing the company you keep.
  2. Listen to your emotions. Sometimes emotions have a message for you.  Sometimes all they want is to be heard.  (Yes, I just personified emotions, because they really are a lot like children: sometimes they just want to be heard.)  Truly facing your emotions can help you move on.
  3. Talk to a supportive person about whatever you are feeling, no matter how irrational the emotion might seem to be.  A “Supportive Person” will not judge you, criticise you, nor give you advice.  They will listen, and try to understand what you are experiencing.  You might have to pay for this; but if you do, it will be worth every penny.
  4. Look at your beliefs.  Often, it is your belief (what you tell yourself) that causes the troubling emotions to continue to dominate your life.  The process of clearing out all of the beliefs and values that caused me to have underlying anxiety most of my life was the most freeing thing I ever did.  To be honest, I still have to do a tune-up occasionally.

Emotional clarity will set you free.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                             June 7, 2017

 

In the Silence . . .

In the Silence . . .

         Silence is a source of great strength.                Lao Tzu, circa 500 BC

When we are looking for answers to our life’s questions, often the best source is not from a speech, nor from a therapist, nor from someone’s writings.  (Wow!  And I do all three of those things for a living!)  The answers to our toughest existential questions are often found in silence.  Silence is one of the most untapped sources of wisdom in the world.

I have heard words of wisdom from a few people in my life, and I value those wise words.  Those words have sometimes influenced my life significantly; but the answers to the deepest, most important questions have come from spending time in silence.  The greatest wisdom in my life has resulted from seeking silence.  In silence, insights and life directions come to me.  This has been necessary in knowing what to do in my health care, my career, and my relationships.  I have found hope, resulting in joy, during times of great uncertainty when the result of listening to the doctors or other experts could have resulted in paralyzing fear, or could have led me to make unwise decisions.  My best decision-making has come as a result of first seeking silence, and then letting the answer come to me.

Some explain these wise thoughts of guidance as the “voice of God,” or as “higher consciousness.”  However you choose to explain it, listen to it, trust it, and follow it.  True guidance comes from thoughts that are accompanied by a sense of peace, or some other way of knowing that the guidance is accurate.  If you are gripped by fear in the silence, you are likely just tapping into a dysfunctional thought process in your mind that had to be cleared before hearing the truth.

Seek silence.  Make time, and spend the effort necessary to find it.  You will be surprised what you hear in the silence.

Christopher knippers, Ph.D.                                                            May 31, 2017

 

 

The Power of Commitment

The Power of Commitment

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.   Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”                     Goethe, 1785

When we are striving to live a good life despite chronic illness, we can become so focused on that illness and its remedies until we miss some important aspects of our lives.  You have a purpose in life.  You have passions and dreams.  That can be your primary focus.

As I wrote in a previous post about learning our life’s lessons through joy instead of through suffering, you can learn through getting in touch with all that is Right with you, instead of focusing on all that is wrong, and then pursuing your passion.  When you get in touch with your passion, commit yourself to it.  Yes, you can think of all the reasons why it might not work out, and indeed it might not on your first through fourth tries; but stay committed to your passion.

There are infinite examples of people who kept meeting resistance in fulfilling their passions, but none-the-less persisted; then suddenly vast amounts of good fortune came their way: Meeting just the right people; being in just the right place at the right time; social and economic trends prevailing in their favor, etc.  Being a writer, one such recent example which comes to my mind is a very famous author.  She was a newly divorced single mother of an infant.  She was grieving the loss of her mother.  She had a college degree but had a very low-paying humble job, and spent every spare minute crafting a children’s book that came to her in whole during a long delay in her train commute.  She finally finished it, while barely able to afford food, and was rejected by a dozen publishers who scoffed at her work.  Janet did not give up.  She finally met someone who believed in her work and together they found a publisher who was willing to take a chance on her, as long as she changed her name from Janet to “J.K.” Rowling.  Multiple millions of book sales and numerous movie deals later, she is a household name; and the only reason she is not on the list of wealthiest women in the world is because so much of her fortune has gone to help the less fortunate of the world.

I have recently been personally inspired by this quote on the power of committment from William H. Murray: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

It is not just “having a dream,” or saying that you will take a chance and “see if it works out.”  It is saying that “no matter what” I Am doing this!  Then, providence can be unleashed in your favor.  You don’t have to work out all the details first.  The right people, the right timing, and the right material assistance will come when you are truly committed to your passion.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                  May 24, 2017

Healing in Nature

Healing in Nature

“Nature itself is the best physician.”     Hippocrates, 350 B.C.

Healing can be facilitated by many different sources.  Nature has long been a source of significant physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing; yet is often overlooked or underappreciated for its healing qualities.  Nature is too often perceived as just being a visual experience.  It goes far beyond and much deeper than just the visual.

For many, nature is a source of inspiration, solace, guidance, and regeneration/healing.  (paraphrased from Kirsti A. Dyer, M.D.’s website)   “Nature is the one place where miracles not only happen, but they happen all the time.” (Thomas Wolfe, 1925)

We just need to take the time and effort to seek out a place in nature, then to look deep into nature in order to experience the deeper healing that can be facilitated by the natural world; and to learn the lessons that nature can teach us about ourselves, our lives, Higher Power, and our world.  “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)  Nature can be viewed as a metaphor to teach us many lessons about life itself.

Many cultures of the ancient world recognized the healing that can can be found by tapping into the natural world’s healing qualities.  The ancient Hawaiians lived in harmony with nature in order to experience healing of mind, body, and spirit.  The word “Aloha” contains this philosophy of the importance of living in harmony with the natural world.  A dear friend of mine, Renee Baribeau has just published a book, Winds of Spirit (Hay House, 2017) that illustrates the healing of mind, body , and spirit that can be found in nature.

There is scientific research that validates these claims about the healing found in the natural world.  A few examples include:  In 2013, Christensen, Holt, and Wilson found that subjects over the age of 65 who engaged in outdoor activities 4 or more times weekly had significantly less depression, and in turn, fewer physical illnesses than the group who rarely spent time in nature. —  A 1984 study by R. S. Ulrich showed that hospitalized patients recovered significantly faster after surgery  when their rooms looked out on nature, as opposed to looking out on another building. — In 2003, people of all socio-economic levels who were living in greener areas were found to be significantly healthier overall than people who lived in less green environments (deVries, Verheij, Groenwegen, Spreeuwenburg).  And of course there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence of people who found healing of mind, body, and spirit by immersing themselves in nature.

My earliest memory is of finding a very deep sense of peace in a time of extreme trauma in my life (age 4) as I sat under my favorite palm tree in our 5 acre hilltop yard looking out over the Hawaiian Pacific.  That deep sense of spiritual, emotional, and physical meaning in life stays with me to this day; and that image is as vivid as ever, 60 years later.  I return to places like that at least annually for healing and insight.

Spending time in nature will give you a sense of peace.  It will give you a chance to be inspired; and give you insights that you need to facilitate your healing.  You can find answers to questions you have had about yourself and about life.  You just might find a miracle there.

“Nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.  I still do not know where else I could have found one.”  (C.S. Lewis)

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                         May 17, 2017